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T+L's Best Travel Photography Tips 2009

There’s no better way to remember a trip than through pictures. But too often those pictures don’t come out to our satisfaction. Why is that castle out of focus? Where is the amazing beach I thought I snapped? What’s with that devilish red glare in people’s eyes?

Happily for trip-taking shutterbugs, the path to better travel photos is clearer than ever. Digital cameras are more convenient and reliable, with different models geared for all skill levels and needs. T+L’s photo editors test-drove the latest cameras and found many worthwhile options—though they do have their strengths and weaknesses.

In the lower-price category, the Nikon Coolpix S220 ($150) turned out to be great for outdoor shots and close-ups. The drawback: it wasn’t the best at capturing nighttime images. The Kodak EasyShare M380, which goes for $180, is a good choice as an all-around camera for active amateurs taking simple snapshots, day or night, as the settings are automatic. The LCD screen is a bit small, though.

Want your machine with a few more bells and whistles? The Olympus Stylus Tough-8000, at $380, is waterproof and freezeproof, making it a highly recommended camera for those taking pix in the great outdoors. When the light is low, though, some fiddling with the camera’s modes is necessary to ensure good results—which hampers spontaneity. At an even higher level of complexity and price, the $730 Nikon D5000 turned out to be a boon for recreational photographers who prefer to shoot in automatic but want to take higher-quality images. The model has fairly accurate internal meters, and the F-stop and speed settings are embedded.

After you pick out the camera that’s best for you, the next step is basic technique. Follow T+L’s easy tips and you’re sure to be happier with your photographic results. To take those tricky portraits of people in the sun, for instance, try using a daytime flash. Not only will this brighten the shadowy areas within the frame, it will help the subject pop out more.

The very best way to improve, of course, is to place yourself in the hands of an expert. We’ve compiled a list of photographer-led tours that take travelers to picture-worthy locations and teach them how best to capture the sights with a camera. For instance, National Geographic photographer Mark Thiessen takes a group to Washington, D.C., and imparts basic composition techniques among the monuments. For a more far-flung adventure, veteran lensman George Ritchey takes guests to the Galápagos, to snap action shots of blue-footed boobies and other exotic animals.

Read on for more quick hints on how to create great mementos of your next trip. Happy shooting!

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